How do normal push-ups compare with push-ups with the arms in a cross position?
I am guessing that it produces less hypertrophy because the range of motion is way shorter, but I want experts' opinions.
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The most obvious distinction between normal and cross push-ups is the difference between the loads placed on the horizontal flexors/adductors of the humerus (the pectoralis major), the humeral flexors (the anterior deltiod), and the elbow extensors (the triceps brachii). Push-ups performed from a cross position maximise tension on the pectoralis major, and correspondingly limit the involvement of the anterior deltoid and triceps brachii.
Regular push-ups are performed with levers at their ideal lengths, thereby allowing the three major muscle groups to share the load of the body proportionately whilst travelling through a significant range of motion. By contrast, cross push-ups place the same load on near-maximally elongated levers, thereby vastly reducing the joints' potential range of motion, and increasing the force requirements of the controlling muscles.
Push-ups can therefore be regarded as a basic and foundation exercise, while cross push-ups should be regarded as an advanced and specialised exercise.
Since one of the most fundamental criteria for hypertrophy is our working load, regular push-ups are ultimately more limited in their ability to stimulate hypertrophy, however. That is, as the load becomes small relative to our strength, our potential for further growth is reduced. Of course, for reasons discussed above, push-ups will provide greater multilateral development.
The relationship between ranges of motion and hypertrophy is unclear, but the existing literature seems to suggest that limited ranges of motion are just as effective as the full range of motion for stimulating hypertrophy, and possibly even greater owing to local intramuscular hypoxia. It should be noted, however, that the latter finding is generally inconsistent with earlier and contemporary literature.
In summary, cross push-ups should be recognised to be a largely distinct exercise from regular push-ups. They can very reasonably form part of a more advanced programme of hypertrophy, but it should be understood that they will offer far lesser multilateral development due to limitations of the joint actions and ranges of motion involved.
I hope that is helpful.